Making History Blog

Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.

Vince Johnson's Gift

Vince Johnson's Gift
1867 Survey Map of Mendocino It’s always interesting to go back to the beginning. We like to know where it all started, what it was like before, how it was different from today. Perhaps that’s why books and movies with historical settings are popular. Authors and screenwriters provide us with wonderfully detailed pictures of an earlier world with compelling drama, interesting plot twists and intriguing characters we want to know more about. Without a time machine to physically transport us back, those[... see full page]

Kelley House Welcomes New Director

Kelley House Welcomes New Director
by Jane Tillis, Board member Kelley House Museum Director-Curator Karen McGrath There’s new leadership at the Kelley House Museum. Karen McGrath, Director-Curator, has succeeded Anne Cooper, who held the position for three years before returning to her home in San Diego. Karen is a relatively new resident of the Coast, having moved here in October 2016, but she and her husband have been visitors to the area since 2003. After years of saying, “Wouldn’t it be great to live here?” at the[... see full page]

A Mystery School in Albion

A Mystery School in Albion
A Mystery School in Albion Why is it a mystery? Because if you check in “What Became of the Little Red Schoolhouse” Volume 1-Mendocino Area, there is no school pictured that looks like this one. Behind the schoolhouse, it looks like the coastline, but it could be a bluff top inland. And, of course, if I have five of the six volumes that make up the set of Little Red Schoolhouse books in my personal library I was missing the South[... see full page]

Adventures with Coastal Lumber Schooners

Adventures with Coastal Lumber Schooners
Coastal Lumber Schooner These tidbits of shipping history on the Mendocino Coast started from an investigation into why the Union Lumber Company’s California Western Railroad Navigation subsidiary had the word “navigation” in the title. Well, in 1905 all finished lumber products were sent to the San Francisco Bay Area by sea. It would be a decade before the railroad from Fort Bragg to Willits was finished and a new rail connection to the outside world established. Because Fort Bragg’s Union Lumber[... see full page]

Missing Streets of Mendocino City

Missing Streets of Mendocino City
Metsker's Atlas of Mendocino County, California, May 1954 As a docent at the Kelley House Museum, I love looking at old maps of Mendocino. While there are many to peruse in the archives there, I made an internet discovery that has entertained me for hours. Google “Historic Map Works” and “Mendocino County 1954” and you will see extremely detailed maps of our county fully indexed by location. On big tracts, especially in rural areas, the landowner’s name is shown. Highway 1[... see full page]

Fire and Water

Fire and Water
It’s been years -- generations -- since anything has happened at that place in Mendocino where Lansing Street comes down the hill to meet Main. This level area above the bluffs overlooking the Bay has been empty since 1941 when the biggest hotel in town, the three-storied Occidental, was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. Over the years, footpaths wound through the volunteer trees and wild blackberries, but the lot remained vacant and quiet, until recently. This last month, a huge[... see full page]